By: Adrian Allan

What is Internationalism? It is much more than simply becoming bilingual. Internationalism is the principle of cooperation among nations for the promotion of their common good. Those that aspire to it believe that cooperation between peoples in different countries is the best means of pursuing global equality. Many believe that inequality is one of the greatest reasons for conflict, and see peace as something that serves the need of the common man. If an international perspective will further this process, it needs to be actively pursued.

In order for cooperation to be achieved between nations it is essential that both sides understand each other’s point of view. It should be noted as Drake (2002) pointed out that to assume that there is universal agreement of what are good values is presumptuous. Different cultures do not always agree on values. It was Hofstede (2005) who shifted the focus of international mindedness a way from universal values, arguing that the interdependence of the 21st Century multicultural world has not encouraged a lessening of diversity. He pointed out that diversity is increasing; ethnic groups within nation states have increased consciousness of their identity. To function well in this environment it is essential to be someone who is open-minded. It is important as a starting point to have a strong understanding of one’s own cultural identity.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and Harrisburg Academy’s construct of international mindedness stems from our commitment to the Learner Profile.  These are the attributes it says that internationally minded individuals like Picasso, Einstein, Hawkins, and others exhibit. The IB emphasizes as well that critical cultural awareness begins with the awareness that one’s own values and ideological perspectives are culturally determined and therefore potentially incompatible with others.  We will not always be able to agree with others, and what is needed is an openness towards cultural differences.  However, this does not mean that we have to endorse them.

The aim of the IB’s three programs (PYP, MYP and DP) is to develop internationally minded people who recognize their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, and who are determined to help create a better, more peaceful world.

At Harrisburg Academy we are committed to helping our students acquire these important attributes of the Learner Profile.  We aim to guide them towards a better understanding of what it means to be a global citizen, while at the same time being proud of our own nationalities and cultures.